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June 2020
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Boston Marathon 2012

My Boston Marathon experience was as awesome as I had hoped.  It started with picking up my number at the Expo on Friday – hey, it’s official, I have a number!

I'm Susan, #17930

I pretty much immediately smelled bacon when I walked into the expo.  Running and bacon are not usually associated, but in this case the Pork Council had rented a booth, so indeed, there *was* pork available!  I had to taste a sample, so I too could be pork powered.

Powered by Pork!

My earnest prayer a few weeks ago to avoid cold windy conditions was answered with gusto as the forecast predicted temps soaring to the high 80s with a slight (and non-cooling) tailwind.  Based on the numerous warnings I gave up on a PR or Boston Qualifying time, and just set out to run a smart, controlled race that would get me to the finish line still smiling.   I headed to Hopkinton on Monday morning feeling rested, fueled, and ready for the adventure that awaited me that day.

Ready to head to Hopkinton

Brian and my parents dropped me off in Hopkinton and headed to Mile 7 to watch me; they would hustle on to mile 16 and then make a bee line for Boston to meet me after the race.  I also had cheering friends at Miles 17 and 20, as well as virtual cheering sections along the route – I had a mental list of friends and family whose name began with each letter of the alphabet, so at each mile I could imagine them cheering for me.

The first few miles were downhill and it was hard to hold back with all the adrenaline and excitement.  I tried to keep my pace between 8:00 and 8:30, knowing that the real race didn’t begin until after the halfway point.

Miles 1 to 5 elevation and pace

Even averaging 8:20s for the first 7 miles, I was starting to feel the heat, so I backed off a bit more and made sure to get enough fluids.

Miles 5-10 pace and elevation

I came through the halfway point at just under 1:51, an 8:32 pace.  My fueling plan was going well (a gel at 1 hour and a pack of honey at 2 hours), and I was able to chug a cup of Gatorade every other mile.  I fell into a rhythm with the aid stations, grabbing water to pour on my head or running through a hose when I could.

Miles 10-15 elevation and pace

By Mile 16 I was feeling even better than I had earlier, ready to charge up the Newton Hills after seeing Brian, Mom and Dad.  My goal for the hills was constant exertion, to run them strong but not wear out my legs.

Miles 15-20 elevation and pace

Then it was up and over Heartbreak Hill and then coasting down the backside.  I had been warned that if my legs were hurting at Mile 22, I should expect to have a rough time making it to the finish.  Instead, Mile 22 was one of the fastest of the race, a speedy 8:19 that propelled me through Brookline into Boston.

Miles 20-25 elevation and pace

I settled back into my ~8:30 pace for a couple miles, then savored the jog through Kenmore and down Commonwealth Ave.  It was such an amazing feeling to round Hereford and see the finish.

Final mile

I just grinned and strided on in, at 3:46:33.  I grabbed some water and pretty much any food they gave me, but ended up consuming a water, a banana and potato chips as I wound my way over to the Family Meeting Area and finally took a seat and removed my shoes to relax.


It’s taken me a few days to recover, but I am still so thrilled with the experience.  Thousands of cheering crowds lining the path, hundreds of volunteers who stood out in the hot sun all day to make sure we had a safe run, and thousands of runners who were considerate and encouraging of one another.  So many weeks (years really!) of training, imagining my hill repeats were Heartbreak Hill, envisioning my speed work as the final miles of the race, getting up before daylight to get in my workout before heading to the office.  I’m happy to relax a bit, let my legs recover, and take a little time to reflect before embarking on my next adventure.  And maybe bask in a little bit of extra attention.


Comment from Mark Wickersham
Time: April 20, 2012, 7:38 pm

Very impressive Susan. Congrats.

Pingback from » Toledo Half Marathon and New Goals
Time: May 18, 2012, 6:47 am

[…] that my new goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon just as Susan did. I was jealous watching Susan run Boston and decided I really want to share the experience she had. My fitness level is quite a bit away […]

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